Archive for April, 2008

Energy Forecasts from the CIA

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Perhaps few know or remember this, but Jimmy Carter tried to make the CIA more open.  The openness did not last past his term in office.  I have two CIA energy documents from that era.  The first is “The International Energy Situation: Outlook to 1985,” published April 1977.  The second is “International Energy Biweekly Statistical Review,” published 25 January, 1978.  The second is obviously a periodical.  I do not know if the CIA still publishes energy forecasts or if such forecasts are publicly available if they are published.  The EIA, as I noted earlier in my discussion of its 30th anniversary conference, was established in 1978.  It’s quite likely that EIA is the primary public source of energy forecasts in the US government, although other agencies, such as the Minerals Management Service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may have good reason for narrowly focused forecasts.  And of course they both collect historical data.  The CIA likely provides some limited energy data to the Executive Branch and select members of Congress.  But forecasts such as those it made in the 1970’s would seem to be an inefficient use of scarce resources.

If anybody wishes to purchase copies of these documents, I am willing to make them available for a rather nominal fee covering the cost of copying and mailing.  In future weeks I will provide some of the estimates made by the CIA and compare them with actual circumstances.

Beverly Hillbillies Theory of Oil Production

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Dr. Schlesinger, as crusty as ever, claimed at the EIA Conference (April 7-8, 2008) that polls during the earlier energy crisis of the 1970s showed the public believed all that “Big Oil” had to do to do to find oil was punch a pipe in the ground.  I don’t know if this is true. I’ve not had good luck in finding relevant opinion polls on energy matters on an historical basis.  I do believe that Americans for the most part feel entitled to plenty of energy at cheap prices as part of their birthright.  But this is my opinion that I have been thus far unable to back with hard data.  If anyone knows where I might obtain historical survey data on American attitudes towards energy prices, please let me know.  However, it seems to me that there is a lingering boom and bust cycle in energy, and during the downswings, the issue is mostly out of sight and out of mind.

At any rate, prior to the energy crisis of the 1970s, the TV show, “The Beverly Hillbillies”, had a 9 year run. “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”, the theme song of the show, has lyrics that begin as follows:

Come and listen to a story ’bout a man named Jed
Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed
Then one day he was shooting for some food,
And up through the ground come a bubbling crude
(Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea)

If people really did believe that all the oil companies had to do to find oil was to punch a hole in the ground, could pop culture have contributed to this notion? Or was this pop culture based on a belief that one could fire a shot at some game, miss, and strike oil?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Happy 30th, EIA!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

The Energy Information Administration is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a 2-day conference on energy issues of the day as well as EIA’s usual technical explanations of its ongoing work (http://www.eia.doe.gov/eia_conference_2008.html?featureclicked=1&). 1600 people registered for the conference. I attended most of yesterday’s session and while I cannot make it today, the papers will be posted on the EIA website, so I can catch up at my leisure. Not only did I hear some of the same people who were involved at the beginning or shortly thereafter, including Secretary James Schlesinger and EIA Administrator, Guy Caruso, but today’s issues, particularly as they involve supply, demand and cost, seem to be very close to what they were 30 years ago. This leads me to a number of ideas which I will cuss and discuss in subsequent posts. Please feel free to join in the discussion.

History of Telecommunications Technology

Monday, April 7th, 2008

A bit on the lighter side:

After digging to a depth of 10 yards last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back100 years and came to the conclusion, that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, California scientists dug to a depth of 20 yards, and shortly after, headlines in the LA Times newspaper read: “California archaeologists have found traces of 200 year old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers.”

One week later, a local newspaper in Georgia, reported the following:  “After digging as deep as 30 yards in cotton fields near Adel,  Bubba Johnson, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing.  Bubba has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Georgia had already gone wireless.”

— Sent by a friend in South GA, where I grew up.

Buddy K